Opting for love

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Heb 10:19-25

We have then, brothers, complete confidence through the blood of Jesus in entering the sanctuary, by a new way which he has opened for us, a living opening through the curtain, that is to say, his flesh. And we have the high priest over all the sanctuary of God. So as we go in, let us be sincere in heart and filled with faith, our hearts sprinkled and free from any trace of bad conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us keep firm in the hope we profess, because the one who made the promise is trustworthy. Let us be concerned for each other, to stir a response in love and good works. Do not absent yourself from your own assemblies, as some do, but encourage each other; the more so as you see the Day drawing near.

The warnings and exhortations of the Apostle must be heeded. They are still valid today, even if the times are different. In following the Lord, there are indications that are not subject to a particular time. One of these is to be attentive to one another and to encourage one another to charity and good works.

Certainly one’s own example is the most convincing and always reaches people. But beyond that, we can always try to choose the way of the greatest possible charity, whether in conversation or at work, and apply it concretely.

This is a fundamental decision that one should make for the sake of love, and from this decision, everything will be more and more marked by love.

At a certain point in her life, St. Teresa of Avila made the heroic decision to choose from all possibilities always the most perfect one. According to what we can read in her writings, she did her utmost to put this decision into practice. And it was her collaborator in the reform of Carmel, St. John of the Cross, who told us: “In the evening of life, we will be judged on love alone”. And our excellent teacher, the Apostle St. Paul, called charity the greatest of the gifts of the Spirit (cf. 1 Cor 13:13).

So, if we decide to order everything according to the criterion of love, our life will change and our relationship with others will acquire the taste of true love. It will be a softer, more peaceful way of dealing with others, which, by the way, should not be confused with weakness or softness. St. Francis de Sales, of whom we spoke a few days ago, said that it is easier to win people over with honey than with bitter herbs. He was certainly referring to gentleness of manner.

In the passage we have heard today from the Letter to the Hebrews, we see that the Apostle resorts to positive terms, such as, for example, to encourage good works, to participate in the assemblies, to encourage one another. Such exhortations for interacting with others will encourage them, show them a perspective, motivate them to do good and help them to get out of the sphere of constant criticism.

Of course, fraternal correction is also part of this love, especially when the brother has taken a wrong turn or is in danger of taking a wrong turn, because what is at stake here is the highest good! But here too, it is important to treat the person with this love, which is always in favour of the other and wants his salvation. Correction must not come from that corrosive poison that judges or rejects the person.

This means that we must work on our own heart and never tire of asking for a new heart (cf. Ps. 50:12). The inner union with the Holy Spirit will help us that our decision for love is not only based on reflections and resolutions of the will (although this too is highly praiseworthy), but that we can perceive His constant inspiration towards love and truth, and allow ourselves to be corrected by Him inwardly.

One step that would help us to sustain this decision for love would be to make an examination of conscience at the end of the day: Have I answered the call of love today? How can I do even better? If we sincerely ask ourselves these questions, the Spirit of God will be able to instruct us more and more.